How a simple eye test can save your life, and five tips to improve your health and vision

From cancer to diabetes, from thyroid disease to vascular problems, more than 200 major systemic diseases can be spotted early with eye tests. Chronic children’s diseases and conditions that affect babies and pregnant women can also be detected and early treatment can save lives.
By: Anthea Rowan
Our eyes give us the capacity to see the world, and, according to the metaphor, are the window to the soul. They also give insights into a person’s health.

As Dr Alan Mendelsohn, a medical director at Eye Surgeons & Consultants in Florida observes, 10 major diseases can be detected during an eye exam. Diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases are three of them.

“We think of our waistlines as indicators of our health,” he says, noting our eyes offer a better reflection. Often, one of the first organs affected by a disease is the eye. Patients may visit an eye doctor complaining of a variety of symptoms ranging from temporary blindness to apparently benign redness of the eye.

In multiple sclerosis, for example, up to 20 per cent of patients initially complain of a seemingly unusual set of symptoms that affect the eyes: sudden vision loss in only one eye, pain with eye movement, or double vision.

Andy Meau, an optometrist who runs his own Hong Kong-based practice, iSight Optometric Eye Care Centre, in Central, explains why an eye exam lends such extraordinary insight into a person’s health: “A routine dilated eye examination is not just a vision and prescription test, we can examine the entire structure of the eye, from the anterior cornea surface all the way to the posterior retinal surface and the optic nerve,” he says.

The eyes’ blood supply comes from the ophthalmic artery, a branch of the carotid artery, which also supplies blood to the brain. Blood vessels in the retina have similar characteristics to blood vessels in the brain, so examining them allows optometrists to make a contribution to diagnosing and monitoring various diseases…..

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Source: South China Morning Post